Indications of profound interest have emerged that about sixteen firms are scrambling to acquire 9mobile, Nigeria’s fourth largest network operator.
ThisDay reports that the 16 firms have submitted Expressions of Interest (EoIs) to Barclays to bid for 9mobile
It is understood that companies that have expressed interest in 9mobile include Africa’s biggest telecoms operator, MTN; India’s Bharti Airtel, operating as Airtel in Nigeria; and ntel, which in 2015 acquired the assets of the defunct NITEL and MTel through the federal government’s privatisation programme.
Also in the race are Bua Group, the privately held conglomerate promoted by Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu; Morning Side Capital Partners, promoted by the former Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc, Mr. Alex Otti; and Africell, a subsidiary of the Lebanon-based Lintel Group of Companies, with cellular communications operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Other firms that submitted EoIs are Obot Etiebet & Co, belonging to a former petroleum minister, Mr. Don Etiebet; Blackstone Private Equity; Tel-ology Holdings Limited, a special purpose vehicle led by a former chief executive of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Adian Wood, and Ericsson; De-elim Services Limited; Veittel, a firm owned by the investment arm of the Vietnamese military which has telecoms assets in Africa; AB-Bro Limited, a Nigerian venture company; Hamilton and George International Limited; and two other firms.
The news outlet quoted industry sources as saying that the 16 companies had complied with the deadline for the submission of EoIs at Barclays’ office in Ikoyi, Lagos, and are preparing to access the data room to conduct their due diligence on 9mobile, preparatory for the bid submission stage.
The telco had defaulted on a loan repayment scheme of $1.2 billion due a consortium of 13 local banks, citing economic downturn and the resulting naira devaluation as the reason for their inability to repay.